France name their side to face England in Sunday's semi-final tomorrow, and they will have to make do without Olivier Brouzet. Their mountainous lock forward dislocated a shoulder during the comprehensive quarter-final victory over Ireland in Melbourne.
This is not quite the devastating development it might have been a year ago. Brouzet, who has been replaced by the Montferrand second-rower Thibault Privat, lost his starting place to Jerome Thion during the summer and has been manacled to the replacements' bench ever since.
The French have also lost the services of their reserve back, Pepito Elhorga, of Agen, whose father died at the weekend. Elhorga is flying home to attend to family matters, but will return to Australia in time for the semi-final. Given the presence of Nicolas Brusque, the first-choice full-back, and the gifted Clement Poitrenaud, Elhorga may have been restricted to a watching brief anyway.
World Cup officials have announced that Paddy O'Brien, the long-serving New Zealand referee, will control the England-France tie, and that Chris White, the highly rated referee from Cheltenham, will oversee the so-called Tasman Derby between the Wallabies and the All Blacks. O'Brien has returned to his most sympathetic form after a dismal experience during the 1999 tournament, when he arguably cost Fiji a victory over France in Toulouse that would have earned the islanders a quarter-final tie against Argentina.
White, who might stand a chance of emulating his fellow West Countryman, Ed Morrison, as a World Cup final referee if England hit the buffers this weekend, will be assisted by Andre Watson of South Africa and Nigel Williams of Wales. Morrison controlled the 1995 final, when the Springboks beat New Zealand in a tryless encounter.Reuse content